Panteon de Hombres Ilustres

The Pantheon of Illustrious Men is located at Julian Gayarre, 3, and is part of the Basilica de Atocha. Several men important in the history of Spain have their pantheons in the building. The widow of King Alfonso XII, Maria Cristina, decided that this mausoleum be built and a contest was held in 1890 to pick the architect. The architect selected was Fernando Arbos y Tremanti. His design was in the Neo-Byzantine style and the building was finished in 1899. A good reason to visit this monument is to see some of the best sculpture from the early 20th century.

Mariano Benlliure was one of the best Spanish sculptors of that time. He built the pantheons for Jose Canalejas, Praxedes Mateo Sagasta, and Eduardo Dato. Jose Canalejas was the prime minister in 1910 but was assassinated in 1912 while he was in office, and the assassination took place in the Puerta del Sol. Praxedes Mateo Sagasta was a prime minister eight times, the last time during the Spanish-American War of 1898. He was blamed for the loss of Spanish colonies as a result of that war. Eduardo Dato served as prime minister three times and was assassinated by anarchists at the Puerta de Alcala in 1921.

Another pantheon was built for Manuel Gutierrez de la Concha, who was the Marques del Duero, and the sculptors were Arturo Melida y Alinari and Elias Martin. Gutierrez was born in Argentina but later came to Spain and became a general and put down the Carlist insurrection. Antonio de los Rios Rosas was a politician and became the President of Congress in 1863. His pantheon was the work of Pedro Estany. Antonio Canovas del Castillo was born in Malaga and became a historian and the President of the Council of Ministers. Unfortunately he was assassinated at a spa in Mondragon, Guipuzcoa, by an Italian anarchist in 1897. His pantheon was created by Agustin Querol in 1906. So many politicians assassinated by anarchists!